SOWER AND SOIL – A PARTNERSHIP
HOMILY – 15th SUNDAY [A] 2017 [Matthew 13:1-23]
Some of the hillside on Ngauranga Gorge collapsed this week, blocking State Highway 1. The Manawatu Gorge has been plagued by slips for years and now seems unlikely to ever reopen. A medium size earthquake disturbed us on Monday morning, with a larger one near Invercargill. The severe weather pattern with snow, wind and rain, has meant total chaos for much of the country. There’s an air of uncertainty swirling around us these days; nationally and internationally, and not just with the weather. We don’t like uncertainty; we’ve been conditioned by advertisers and salespeople to expect guarantees.
But we are being reminded more and more that we are tenants on this planet. We don’t own it. When the priest receives the bread and wine from you and places them on the altar table, he refers to them as fruit of the earth and work of human hands – an open reference to a partnership, a working and respectful relationship without which Earth would lie fallow and we would starve! Whether we know it or not, acknowledge it or not, we are tied to each other and are one with Earth – our common home [Pope Francis].
Our bishops urge us to participate in the coming General Election; to get out and vote. Their statement concerning the General Election in September lists a number of issues crucial to social well-being, such as cultural diversity, migration, housing and mental health. Care of the environment is also listed and once again the emphasis is on the need to respect our habitat, our common home. Election or not, we can sit back disinterested and uninvolved.
Today’s readings bring faith to the picture, securing God’s place centre stage. The Hebrew prophet, Isaiah: linking the gifts of rain and snow to the word of God – equally necessary for life and harvest. St Paul: the groaning of creation mirrors our own inner groaning for peace and fulfilment; freedom from chaos. Then the section of Matthew’s Gospel: the powerful parable of Jesus about the seed, scattered in many directions. Some eaten by birds, some dried up by the sun, some choked by weeds, some surviving till harvest.
Throughout this grouping of scripture, the partnership between ourselves and Earth becomes increasingly clear and significant. The seed needs to be sown for the soil and the rain to do their work, but has the sower been careful enough? So much seed wasted on rocks, among thorns and on the edges of the field – places where it can’t grow. The partnership collapses! Perhaps the sower was in a hurry, anxious about another problem, or just lazy… So much potential for good literally tossed away!
Where are you in this partnership scheme? You might be making real efforts recycling or using less power or plastic; but are you applying the same care in your personal relationships at home or at work; and in your relationship with God? Are your simply going through the motions, doing the minimum, not bothering too much or distracted with your own concerns?
The care of our common home requires giving care to everything about us: looking after yourself and those who depend on you; then others who perhaps cannot properly care for themselves, and the wider world, the environment. Quite a job! You don’t have to do everything, but each one of us has to do something. Otherwise the uncertainty just gets worse. Make an effort this week to improve or heal a relationship in one area of your life – to ease the groaning of the earth, or the anxiety someone feels, to place yourself at the service of others or the community. Be a sower who takes the work seriously, planting on good ground for a fruitful harvest.